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London South Bank neighbourhood guide: What to see, where to eat and drink, and more by the River Thames

Whether you have tickets for the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, or a West End show across the bridge, there are a wealth of activities all along the South Bank to stretch your theatre trip into a proper day out. Here is your guide to the best spots on the South Bank to make the most of your time between matinee and evening shows.

Where to eat at London’s South Bank

Whether you're wanting to say cheers with a celebratory breakfast, picking up a last-minute snack, or searching for a world-class dinner, there's plenty of dining options on London's South Bank. We round up some of the best options for food on the South Bank.

Cubana

48 Lower Marsh, South Bank, London SE1 7RG

For a little slice of Latin America, head over to Cubana for authentic cuisine and the single best mojito you’ll ever taste. The location is a short walk off the river, but worth it for their daily afternoon happy hour. Make it a full evening if you have tickets for a show at the Old Vic and fancy a bite before the performance or a drink after!

OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar, and Brasserie

Barge House Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH

Located on the eighth floor of this iconic South Bank landmark, the Tower’s restaurant overlooks the river and offers a breathtaking view of the London cityscape. Make a night of it with a few fancy pre-theatre cocktails in this upscale spot where you’re sure to get a spectacular experience included in the price of your gin and tonic.

Sticky Mango

33 Coin Street, South Bank, London SE1 9NR

More like an open secret than a major tourist destination, this unembellished little restaurant has been nestled in its spot since the 1980s. The establishment (formerly known as RSJ) has a loyal base of theatre-going regulars, offering a selection of Loire Valley wine, authentic South Asian cuisine, and the ideal atmosphere for a thorough post-theatre discussion.

Wahaca Southbank

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

Most Londoners know you can never go wrong with this beloved staple of chain eateries. When spending the day in the hub of a pricey city, it is always useful to know where to find a cost-effective meal, and even more importantly, where to find the cheap margaritas. This location is especially popular for Wahaca lovers given its prime spot along the bank, and the quirky fun of ordering food from a refurbished boxcar.

Where to drink at London’s South Bank

Whether it's an alcoholic pick-me-up, or you're looking for a refreshing drink during the summer months, these London bars are sure to be a tonic for your upcoming visit to London's South Bank. Enjoy a tipple or two at some of our recommended London South Bank bars. Plus, some of the options are located in theatres, so you can enjoy a pre-theatre drink before catching a show.

The Understudy

Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Nestled directly below the National Theatre, this cosy craft beer pub is ideal whether you’re a casual river bank stroller or a ticket holder with time to kill before curtain. From its prime location right on the River Thames, you can sip a flavourful pint while observing the hustle and bustle of the South Bank scene.

Primo Bar

200 Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, London SE1 7UT

The fun never stops at Primo Bar with its impressive nightly lineup of talented musicians from around the world. Evenings are abuzz with activity and excitement at this favourite late-night local spot, made even more lively after a few rounds from the wide selection of famous exotic cocktails.

What to see on London’s South Bank

If you're spending time in and around London's South Bank before or after a show, then you'll want to check out everything in the local area. Explore your new surroundings and discover something new at the South Bank today.

Southbank Book Market

337-338 Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

One of the best loved spots along the River Thames is this unique outdoor shop featuring a handsome collection of secondhand books, postcards, and vintage posters situated just below the Waterloo Bridge. Even in London’s trademark rainy weather, this modestly charming bookshop remains open until 7PM every day. Have a little browse, and you may even find an old copy of one of your favourite plays.

BFI Southbank

Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

The British Film Institute runs and operates this 70-year-old cinema right on the river, a favourite for both avid movie lovers and casual afternoon stragglers. Formerly known as the National Film Theatre, the BFI Southbank eventually took over several of the surrounding sites, resulting in a massive multiplex complete with cafés and an exhibition space.

Southbank Centre Food Market

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XX

Whether you’re looking for craft beer, fine wine, or freshly roasted coffee, classic British pub fare, or a selection of delicious cuisines from around the globe, all of the above is available in this hugely popular market every weekend at the Southbank Centre. Perfect for a late lunch after a matinee or a quick pre-show dinner, this amazing array of food and drink won’t break the bank.

Tate Modern

Bankside, London SE1 9TG

One of London’s most prominent cultural institutions, the Tate Modern is a staple of the South Bank with its sleek, eye-catching exterior welcoming visitors to come and take in its brilliant collection of modern art. Even the casual passerby can stop in and enjoy the adult-sized swingset greeting patrons in the lobby, or have a pre-show tipple at the fabulous bar just off to the side.

Photo credit: South Bank (Photo courtesy of Andrew on Flickr under CC 2.0)

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